Why the best show on TV is dead to me

NB: This post will discuss plot strands from the seventh season of The West Wing, currently airing in the US. So, if you’re a fan of the show but haven’t seen the episodes not yet aired in the UK, please don’t read any further.

The West Wing, eh? Effortlessly the finest TV show of the past 10 years or so. OK, so the last couple of seasons have been a but up and down in the quality stakes, but the Aaron Sorkin years produced some of the finest moments trendthrift has ever been lucky enough to sit through. Many people I’ve recommended the show to in the past have been reluctant to give it a go because: a) It doesn’t feature any spooky desert islands; b) There’s very little in the way of dog/shotgun interaction (which, of course, is a fair point); and c) It’s all about politics. And politics is boooooooooooring.

Except, of course, The West Wing had much more going for it than a simple ‘White House staffers do dull work’ premise. It had the finest TV writer of our times, for a start. And as starts go, that’s not a bad one. Add a large, genuinely stunning cast, and you’re well on the way to something special. These guys nailed the dramatic storylines with aplomb, but the show, at that time, was also the funniest thing on TV. Heavy-hitting scenes were expertly interspersed with beautifully delivered comic relief. Again, it was all a testament to the genius of the show’s main writer.

Four seasons in, Sorkin left the show, along with long-time collaborator Thomas Schlamme. While it’s never been the same since, The West Wing has still managed to continue to be an enjoyable show with some memorable episodes — mainly thanks to the continued brilliance of the cast, even when working with inferior scripts. Now, though, I’ve had enough. And this is why:

Rocker Jon Bon Jovi is set to appear in the US television series The West Wing as a Democratic Party supporter.

Bon Jovi will reportedly play himself in the hit show and come out to show his support for Matt Santos, played by Jimmy Smits, a Democratic presidential candidate. He will go on to sing one of his new tunes – Welcome to Wherever You Are – in the episode airing in the US on March 26.

Jesus. The straw that broke the camel’s back, if you will. Jon Bon Jovi plugging his new single? On The West Wing? Well, suck me off sideways if that’s not a step too far.

This comes after the best character in the show, Toby Ziegler, was written out of proceedings in an insulting, unconvincing way. Fans of the show will also have heard by now that John Spencer, who played the White House Chief of Staff, died of a heart attack in December. He’ll be sadly missed by all, and The West Wing will miss the warmth and gravitas he brought to the role of Leo McGarry. That’s two of the most important characters gone in the space of a few weeks. And when the top notch cast are the only thing holding the show together in the absence of Sorkin’s sparkling dialogue, this is where is starts to fall apart.

Hell, even if those guys were still around: Jon Bon Jovi, ‘going on to sing one of his new tunes’? No thanks.


4 Responses to Why the best show on TV is dead to me

  1. Bamos says:

    Also, wasn’t Welcome To Wherever You Are an INXS album?

    He can’t even get his own titles anymore.

    I don’t like Bon Jovi. That is all

  2. trendthrift says:

    You could well be right. My INXS knowledge is sadly lacking; it’s a weakness I’ve been aware of for too many years now.

  3. peteremcc says:

    i really like the west wing, in New Zealand i believe we are in the current series (president’s last year) but because of the day and time it is shown… i sometimes miss the show :(.

    I learnt about John Spencers death not long after the episode where he had (i think it was) a heart attack… very ironic. How do they plan to work this into the script?

    I think i agree that the show has suffered recently but I look forward to purchasing all the series on DVD (hopefully at a discount because each series is like US$80 here in New Zealand) and finally getting to watch everything in order :D


  4. trendthrift says:

    I’m not sure how they’re going to work John Spencer’s death into the show, but I would imagine that with Leo’s medical history, they will kill him off.

    That said, with the announcement that this season will be the last, they may try and write around the absence. I’m really not sure if that would come off well though.

    As for buying all the DVDs, you’re in for a real treat with the earlier episodes.

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